Why do alarms always seem to follow bad press?
And I thought it only happened in the UK – a sudden security alert just when a particular policy gets bad press. This morning (posted on April 8, 2010 at 6:22 AM), Bruce Schneier publicized a speech given by Congressman John J Duncan Jr (Tennessee) way back in June 2009. I doubt if many people heard about it – but when Schneier blogs, people read.
Duncan was complaining about the cost of the Air Marshall Service.
We now have approximately 4,000 in the Federal Air Marshals Service, yet they have made an average of just 4.2 arrests a year since 2001. This comes out to an average of about one arrest a year per 1,000 employees.
Now, let me make that clear. Their thousands of employees are not making one arrest per year each. They are averaging slightly over four arrests each year by the entire agency. In other words, we are spending approximately $200 million per arrest. Let me repeat that: we are spending approximately $200 million per arrest.
Now, thanks to Schneier, this is considerably more in the more public domain. Within hours (Release Date: April 8, 2010; For Immediate Release; Office of the Press Secretary) the DHS has released a ‘Statement by Secretary Napolitano on Actions by Federal Air Marshals on Board United Flight 663’:
I commend the Federal Air Marshals on board United Airlines flight 663 last night, who swiftly responded to a potential threat to passenger safety while the plane was in flight. These highly trained individuals took appropriate and immediate action to secure the aircraft and communicate the potential threat to authorities on the ground—ensuring that the flight was met by TSA and law enforcement officials when it landed safely in Denver. I spoke to the Air Marshals this morning, and I expressed my appreciation for their vital service keeping passengers around the world safe from potential threats of terrorism—work that nearly always goes unnoticed. We always treat security-related incidents seriously until verified otherwise, and thankfully this incident posed no actual security threat.
Co-incidence? You tell me.